I'm calling this one 'The Battle of Deeva's Ruin', though as Robotforaday of the 'Where the Sea Pours Out' blog GM'd this one it will be his prerogative to explain the details and name things fully in his forthcoming AAR.
Robotforaday as GM took control of a force of a distinctly Celtic-looking natives, a lake-dwelling death-turtle (upon whom they relied to stimulate the local economy) and a ragtag band of mohawk-sporting Orc mercenaries. These uncompromising fellows were the most kindly disposed towards the nearby ruined shrine and the associated legend of a forgotten Goddess. Just off the coast, a GM'd force of Sea Elves were also preparing to land having discerned a threat posed by some marauding Norse.
Thantsants controlled his Norse army, a piratical mix of Norse men and Dwarfs, leading them in a raid on the broken shrine which was rumoured to house a hidden vault of treasure. The Norse chieftain was leading the raid personally after his clan had suffered some recent misfortune.
VanLoon had brought his Khorne Warband along, adding spice to the occasion was the secret that they had been responsible for a raid on the home village of the Norse only weeks earlier. The Norse chieftain's treacherous brother (Filthi Richardsson) had struck a deal with the Khorne champion for his life, he betrayed his clan and the secret of the shrine treasure vault while promising to worship Khorne.
I was in command once again of 'The Unwanted', a warband of Malal worshipers led by A'ben Dond. Despite his unfortunate Troll-vomit shower in his last battle, A'ben Dond had recovered and even been promoted. Having been a lowly Chaos Warrior in his previous incarnation I decided to improve his lot in life somewhat to make any battles he might fight with the numerous level 10 and 15 characters on the board more interesting. I found the Champion stats in Warhammer Armies not quite enough but the Chaos Knight stats a little too powerful, fortunately though a solution presented itself. Having wielded a 'Parasitic Blade' in his previous fight (a worthy gift from Malal) he had gained several statistic increases as a reward for the wounds he inflicted.
A'ben Dond, Champion of Malal
M 5 WS 7 BS 6 S 5 T 4 W 3 I 6 A 3 Ld 9+2 Int 10+2 Cl 9+2 WP 9+2
This gave me a useful stat-line to work with, one that sat neatly between 'champ' and 'knight' in terms of effectiveness, so I froze these unique characteristics and changed the Parasitic Blade to 'Dreadthirster', a sword that simply returned lost wounds to it's master for each wound inflicted on a foe (or possibly friend, why not), the most basic function of the original magic item. I also declared A'ben Dond to be reluctant to draw the blade, except in direst need.
Each of us had a note passed along by the GM telling us our secret goals. A'ben Dond had come here seeking to prove himself to his God by wiping out the entire Khorne warband, once this was achieved it was permitted for him to desecrate the ruined shrine.
Let battle commence!
The Unwanted approach the shrine from the south-west, knowing their hated Khorne-worshiping foe will not be far away. A'ben Dond leads from the front, he needs a personal victory today to wash away the stain of his defeat in combat to that pesky Troll. Discardo has once again bound Arown the Wild Cat to his will, it stalks beside the Chaos Goblin cultists. A mysterious stranger has joined the warband (at the behest of the GM) and he is kept close to A'ben in case there is any mischief afoot.
In the north-east the Norsemen dragonships disgorge onto the beach. The usual animosity these brawling pirates have for each other has been put aside, they have united to seek a fabled treasure within the ruined shrine.
From the north-east come a force of native folk dressed in finely woven cloth. Supporting their flanks are a band of Orc mercenaries and a strange, local, lake-dwelling monster death-turtle. Over the straining wail of the native's cacophonous, bag-like instruments can just be heard a few encouraging shouts... "G'warn Besseh! Haway an' gi'them sassenachs a malky wee surprise!"
To the south-east lies the camp of a Khorne champion and his warband. They have been led here by the treacherous Norse noble Filthi Richardsson, erstwhile brother of the chief of the Norse pirates.
Seizing the initiative A'ben Dond orders his thugs to guard the left flank from the depredations of the Norse. The Unwanted focus on one goal; the total destruction of the Khorne warband in the name of Malal. Discardo the sorcerer hangs back to rest and regain his magical strength which has been expended on controlling the stubborn Chaos lion.
Discardo leads the negotiations with the Norse, things are tense for a while as the berserkers crest the hill and look for a moment as if they are willing to brave the longbows of the thugs, but clever diplomacy wins the day as the Malal worshipers forswear any claims to the hidden treasure.
With the ruined shrine complex in the background the two Chaos warbands, bitter enemies, face each other at last. Both forces have had to divert units away from this struggle to protect vulnerable flanks, who has left themselves too weakened to seal victory?
Howling and lashing his prod, the Khorne beastmaster goads his hounds into a frenzy. The Norse traitor and the warband hierarchy (a Chaos Dwarf and a Khorne champion) hang back while a horribly mutated Chaos Ogre lumbers forward to assist the beasts. A regiment of beastmen defend the hill as they spy the Orc mercenaries in the distance.
The native clansmen guard the shrine complex as Bessie slithers off to engage the Norse.
Bessie is confronted by the infamous Norse Dwarf raider, Grim Hairycheek, whose own father was slain by a lake-dwelling death-turtle a few years back, coincidentally. Grim hurls insults and challenges at the beast: "I, and all my friends, challenge you to single combat you ugly monster!"
After some desultory bow fire from the Chaos Goblin cultists the Khorne warband loses patience and charges into battle. In their excitement, the hounds do little real damage to the tightly packed shieldwall of the Goblins, though the Chaos Ogre is able to exchange wounds with A'ben Dond in the melee with the beastmen.
The Chaos Ogre is proving to be a fearsome opponent, the beastmen are unable to scratch it's thick hide and though A'ben Dond has opened a bloody gash in the monster's torso he has been badly hurt in return. He is momentarily tempted to draw 'Dreadthirster' but then thinks of the cost -O! The cost!- and lays on once more using his earthly blade.
The traitor Filthi and his new allies lurk in the shadow of the shrine complex as their minions battle it out with the Unwanted.
Over to the east, the Khorne beastmen have impatiently abandoned their defensive position on the hill in their eagerness to engage the Orc mercenaries.
Having survived the initial onslaught of the beasthounds the Chaos Goblins are able to occupy them until support arrives in the form of the Chaos lion, Arown. It's charge is too much for the dogs and they are hurled back in disarray and slaughtered as they rout.
The Chaos Ogre barely notices, so focused is he on his duel with A'ben Dond!
The thugs move as quickly as they can to rejoin their warband, though they have to often look nervously back at the chanting unit of Norse berserkers following them.
Clan-chief Richardsson and two of his retainers find the treasure he so desperately seeks, but in doing so they awaken an avatar of the Goddess Deeva herself! They fight bravely at first but once they realise their weapons are doing her no harm they flee, appalled, and hide amongst the ruins. Outside an epic battle is fought between Grim Hairycheek and the Monster from Lake Bess.
Foul, Norse magics are employed against Bessie by their shaman, she shakes her head to try and clear the confusion from her animal brain but all the while great rents are opening in her flanks from the hewing of Grim's axe. Horrified, the native clansmen race to her aid.
In the dunes to the east the Orc mercenaries and the Khornate beastmen push each other back and forth, neither side gaining any real advantage. Stomp, stomp go their hooves and feet as they drum on the sand, thump, thump goes the clash of weapon on shield...
At last, A'ben Dond overcomes his fear of monstrous creatures and the washes away the shame of his defeat at the hands of a Troll. The horribly scarred champion casts down the Chaos Ogre with a roar of triumph! His ecstasy is short-lived however for as the Khornate Chaos Dwarf charges into the depleted beastmen A'ben Dond challenges the diminutive warrior to personal combat, a folly born of overconfidence. He is soon wounded a second time and breathing raggedly while his opponent is unharmed and fresh. With a feeling of cold horror, A'ben Dond draws 'Dreadthirster' and prepares to meet his fate.
In a shower of sand and rock, a terrible great-worm bursts forth from beneath the eastern dunes. It attacks the Orc mercenaries and Khornate beastman indiscriminately. The dying starts before many of them are even aware of what's going on.
With a roar of hate-fuelled wrath, Grim Hairycheek defeats Bessie and shouts his joy at taking revenge for his father from atop her corpse. Dismayed at the death of their friend and an important part of the local tourist economy, the native clansmen redouble their efforts. As Grim announces his intention to mount the beast's head at home in his water closet the clansmen roar back in defiance. "Ach! Ye can knock us ye can mock us ye can go to Timbuktoo! But ye'll ne'er see wor Bessie in yer loo!"
The faltering Malal beastmen are being pushed back leaving only a small opening for the recently returned thugs to fire through. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Filthi and the Khorne champion plough on through the gap and slay three of the four thugs outright.
On the north side of the shrine complex battle lines are drawn as the native clansmen and the Norse clash.
Discardo has managed to exert enough control on the Chaos lion to keep it in the fight after the rout of the beasthounds and has sent it loping off around the shrine ruins to the dunes. It's awful charge combined with the ferocity of the great-worm scatters both the Orcs and the Khorne beastmen.
The sight of their clan-chiefs traitorous brother trying to steal the treasure of the Goddess for himself sends the berserkers into an unstoppable frenzy and they charge into the rear of the thug regardless of any pact as they attempt to reach Filthi and tear him apart. "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!" cries the last thug as he is trampled underfoot. With the destruction of the thugs the Chaos Goblins have seen enough, despite their victory, and they take the chance to slope off while the going's good.
The combat between the native clansmen and the Norse raiders drags on, neither side willing to give any quarter.
Blood flows freely on both sides as the Norse start to realise they have met a foe every inch their equal.
Finally something has to give, Grim Hairycheek is himself slain and the native clansmen scream their approval, Bessie is avenged!
In the eastern Dunes the fortunes of the Khorne beastmen change dramatically, the Orc mercenaries give up and flee from the battlefield, the Chaos lion charges them once more but shows signs of tiring and they are able to kill it with little difficulty and the great-worm withdraws back into the sand. This leaves the survivors without any foes for some distance.
Back on the south side, A'ben Dond uses the awesome power of 'Dreadthirster' to leech the very soul from the Chaos Dwarf. One portion goes to feed the sword itself, one portion joins Malal in hell as it begins an eternity of servitude and the final portion flows into A'ben Dond, knitting his wounds together and leaving his vigour renewed. Filthi and the Khorne champion suddenly find themselves surrounded on all sides by their enemies.
The Norse battle lines begin to crumble and break, obviously dismayed at the death of Grim and with their leader off investigating the dark ruins they first falter then begin to fall. Reinforcements rush in to plug the gap but it may be too late.
The berserkers are a poor match for Filthi and his Khornate ally, Filthi is proving to be quite the warrior as the tally of his kills begins to stack up. He buries his axe in the berserker champion and then when his foe begins a transformation into a mighty werewolf he beheads the beast with the backstroke before it gets a chance to attack.
Fortune betrays the Khorne beastmen as they are wandering cheerfully back to camp, they are once more ambushed by the great-worm which kills another of their number. This is too much for the poor creatures who flee in terror deep into the dunes, never to be heard from again.
Seeing the berserkers succumbing to the ferocity of Filthi Richardsson and keen to prove himself to Malal even further, A'ben Dond charges into the rear of the two Khornate warriors.
After a bloody struggle in which the sword, Dreadthirster, proves to be the difference, the Khorne champion and all the berserkers lie dead while a defeated Filthi is at the mercy of A'ben Dond. A bargain is struck, Filthi will keep his miserable life on the condition that he renounces Khorne in favour of Malal. Once more the traitor switches side for his own benefit and Filthi the Apostate is born!
His thugs are beaten, his Chaos Goblins have fled, his beastmen have fought poorly, his sorcerer's spells have been weak, but A'ben Dond has fought like a bear this day and all that remains is a single combat with Filthi's brother, the Norse clan-chief.
"You freed my treacherous brother! Now you must die!"
"No mortal, it is you who will die!"
As the epic duel begins, the Unwanted swarm into the ruined shrine complex and begin to desecrate Deeva's holy place in the name of Malal.
The native clansmen have killed or routed the last of the Norse on the north side, all except the shaman who creates an illusory spectre which terrifies them into fleeing and prevents them from saving the shrine.
Chief Richardsson is cast down and Dreadthirster drinks his soul. A'ben Dond bellows in victory as he bathes in the gaze of Malal.
The Goddess Deeva, she has been sorely weakened and will be forced to flee to another sanctuary.
Cursing the fates, the Sea Elves finally make it ashore only to find the battle is already lost and all that remains is a feast for crows.
All in all the four of us had a brilliant time and lots of fun. I am definitely starting to fall in love with the tale of A'ben Dond and have since dug out more freebie miniatures to add to his army as the legend grows. He will be present at Bring Out Your Lead 2014 if there are any challengers out there!
Thanks for stopping by!